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Labor Department reports a 3 percent unemployment rate for county in July

By Howard B. Owens

There were 30,500 Genesee County residents reported in the labor force for July, according to state data released today, up from 29,400 a year ago and down by 100 from June.

July marks the third straight month that Genesee County's labor force -- the number of people either working or seeking work -- has topped 30,000. The labor force was typically over 30,000 in the several months before the pandemic struck.

The unemployment rate for July is pegged at 3 percent, lower than a year ago when it was 4.3 percent. The rate in June was 2.8 percent.

In both July and June, 900 people were listed as unemployed, according to the Labor Department data. In July 2021, there were 1,300 people unemployed.

The state's unemployment rate was 4.8 percent for July compared to 7.1 percent a year ago.

County's unemployment rate remains below 3.0

By Howard B. Owens

At 2.8 percent, Genesee County's unemployment rate has remained at historically low levels.

June was the third straight month this year when the county's unemployment rate was below 3.0 percent and the fourth time since November 2021.

A year ago, the June rate was 4.4 percent, and in 2020, it was 8.3 percent.

The state's Labor Department reports that there are 29,800 people employed in the county, 900 registered as unemployed and a total labor force of 30,700 individuals.

A year ago, the total labor force was 29,400, and it was 29,500 in 2020.

The state's unemployment rate is 4.4 percent, down from 7.5 percent a year ago, according to the DOL.  The nation's is 3.8 percent, down from 6.1 percent. 

Hawley opposes bill forgiving debt for accidental overpayment of unemployment benefits

By Press Release

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, C, I-Batavia) is speaking out following the passage of a bill (A.6666) by the Assembly Majority that would remove requirements for individuals overpaid by the New York state unemployment system to pay back those funds. Hawley believes that the removal of such a requirement could encourage future abuse of the unemployment system and other assistance programs in the future, and that it burdens small businesses whose unemployment insurance costs have skyrocketed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While it is true people make mistakes, offering a blanket forgiveness to those who received this money and weren’t actually eligible sends the wrong message about how seriously our state tries to protect taxpayer dollars,” said Hawley. “This bill will also hurt the small business owners who are forced to pay more for unemployment insurance. This, in turn, could make it harder for them to hire more people and expand their operations.”

Text of the Bill.

Labor data for Genesee County shows increase in jobs, lower unemployment

By Howard B. Owens

Job and employment data released recently by the NYS Labor Department indicate a strong labor market for Genesee County.

There are 21,500 non-farm jobs in Genesee County, up from 21,000 a year ago.

The total number of private-sector jobs grew from 15,900 to 16,300.

The county's unemployment rate for February 2022 was 4.1 percent, down from 6.2 a year ago and the lowest rate for any February since at least 1990.

The total labor force (the number of people working or seeking work) grew from 29,000 to 29,200.

The total number of local residents employed in February was 28,200, up from 27,200.  The number of employed in February 2020 was higher at 28,600, which was the highest level since 2009 when it was 29,600.

The total unemployed -- people still in the market for jobs -- was 1,200, down from 1,800 a year earlier and lower than in 2020, just before the start of the pandemic, when it was 1,600.  The February total for Genesee County was the lowest since at least 1990.

The state's unemployment rate is 5.1 percent and the nation's is 3.8 percent.

In a recent report, however, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (a Federal agency), New York has a higher labor under-utilization rate than the rest of the nation. 

Labor under-utilization is a measure of the number of people who are unemployed, employed part-time for economic reasons, and those marginally attached to the labor force.

For New York, the rate is 12.2.  Nationally it is 9.4 percent.

New York City's under-utilization rate appears to be pushing up the state average.  In NYC it is 15.5.  For the rest of the state, the data is not broken down by county so the statistic isn't available specifically for Genesee County.

Fewer local residents in job market but overall unemployment rate hits record low

By Howard B. Owens

While the overall number of Genesee County residents with jobs is lower than a year ago, the local unemployment rate hit its lowest percentage point in decades in December at 2.7 percent.

The labor force (the number of people with jobs or considered employable but unemployed) was 28,000 in December, down from 29,200 in December 2021.

The total number of employed residents was recorded as 27,200, down from 27,600 a year ago, with 800 residents unemployed, down from 1,600 a year ago.

The NYS Department of Labor statistics available online goes back to only 1990.  The unemployment rate has never dipped below 3.0 over those decades.

The GLOW-area unemployment rate is 2.8, also a record.

In Erie County rate is 3.3 percent, and Monroe County is 3.0.

The State rate is 5.0, down from 8.5 percent a year ago.  The national rate is 3.7 percent, down from 6.5 percent a year ago.

Area's unemployment rate drops as labor force shrinks locally

By Howard B. Owens

The unemployment rate fell to 3.3 percent in November in the Batavia Micropolitan Area, down from 4.9 percent the previous year.

The micropolitan area, a demographic term, is roughly contiguous with the borders of Genesee County.

There are 27,900 people in the local labor force (people with jobs or looking for jobs), down from 28,900 from a year ago. There are 27,000 people with jobs, down by 500 from the previous year.

There are 900 people in the labor force who are currently unemployed, down from 1,400 a year ago, and down by 100 from last month.

The state's unemployment rate is 5.5 percent, down from 8.3 percent a year ago.

County's unemployment rate for October remains lower than a year ago

By Howard B. Owens

There are currently more than 1,000 Genesee County residents drawing unemployment, according to data released by the state's Department of Labor today.

There are 28,300 people in the local labor force and of those, 27,200 are employed, making the current unemployment rate for October 3.6 percent.

The same as last month and down from a year ago when it was 4.6 percent.  

A year ago, there were more than 1,300 people drawing unemployment.

The GLOW area unemployment rate is 3.7 percent, down from 4.7 percent a year ago.

The state's unemployment rate is 6 percent, down from 8.3 percent a year ago.

As for the total number of jobs in the county, there are currently 21,300 non-farm jobs, up from 21,200 a year ago.

Local unemployment rate drops to 5 percent

By Howard B. Owens

The local unemployment rate hit its lowest level of 2020 so far in April at 5 percent, more than 10 percentage points what it was in the previous April, the worst month locally for the job market during the coronavirus pandemic.  

The 5-percent rate is still a point-and-a-half or so above the 3.6-percent rate of April 2019.

Outside of the 15.9-percent rate of a year ago, the highest rate for an April over the past 31 years was 7.6 percent in 2012.

The Labor Department reports 27,900 people in Genesee County's labor force, which is the aggregate of everybody employed and everybody seeking work. Of those, 26,500 have jobs and 1,400 are looking for jobs.

The March 2021 unemployment rate was 6.1 percent.

The state's unemployment rate is 8.2 percent.

Jacobs introduces bill he says will get people back to work

By Press Release

Press release:

Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27) introduced the Help Wanted Act yesterday evening to help address the growing labor shortages reported in Western New York and around the nation.

“The jobs report released Friday shows what we warned would happen – the President’s policies have disincentivized work and made it more lucrative for individuals to stay home and collect enhanced unemployment benefits than seek employment,” Jacobs said. “Now we are seeing the effects.

"Businesses cannot find employees to keep up with growing demand, restaurants are having to turn customers away when they need them most, and commodity prices are skyrocketing as organizations cannot find labor to support their supply chains. This legislation addresses the root causes of this labor shortage to get Americans back to work and support our economic recovery.”

“There are nearly 8 million job openings and 14 million Americans out of work. If the American economy is going to make a full comeback, we have to get folks back to work -- Congressman Jacobs' Help Wanted Act accomplishes that goal,” Rep. Dusty Johnson said.

“I have continually advocated for reopening our economy and getting people back to work,” said Rep. Tracey Mann. “At a time when small businesses and other employers are searching for workers, the federal government’s interference to normal order is not the right path. It’s time to take off the masks, reopen our businesses and schools, and get back on track.”

The Help Wanted Act was introduced by Rep. Jacobs and is cosponsored by Rep. Johnson (SD-AL) and Rep. Mann (KS-01). 

The legislation would accomplish three main goals. It would require every state to reinstate the “work-search” requirement for unemployment benefits. This requires unemployment recipients to show proof of a job search to receive benefits. During the coronavirus pandemic, this condition was waived by many states.

"In addition, the legislation strikes a provision from the CARES Act allowing individuals to collect unemployment if they voluntarily left their job. Finally, the legislation would prohibit the use of generic concerns about COVID-19 as a reason for turning down offers of employment.

Jacobs said “With more than a year of complying with COVID protocols, vaccines available to all adults, and infection rates dropping significantly, it is time for us to fully reopen and get back to work."

Rath supports audit of unemployment system

By Press Release

Press release: 

“I am happy that Comptroller (Thomas) DiNapoli will be auditing the New York State Unemployment system for fraud," said Sen. Ed Rath (NYS-61). While this is a critical first step, I believe that a full and comprehensive audit of the system needs to be done.

"From the very start of the pandemic, the unemployment system in our State has been an absolute mess and the lack of transparency has been very concerning. Between residents being unable to receive the benefits they are due, to long wait times to overpayments and blatant fraud, there has been nonstop issues.

"My office has heard from hundreds of residents regarding their unemployment problems, and I am proud to say we have been able to work to resolve many of their issues.

"Unfortunately, until the fundamental challenges with the unemployment system are addressed, these problems will continue to occur, and we will continue to see fraud and waste in the system. I am hopeful that this audit will bring some much-needed transparency to the process.”

State's new unemployment benefit rules will allow job seekers to work part-time

By Press Release

Press release:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a proposal to boost partial Unemployment Insurance benefits to New Yorkers who return to work part time as part of the 2021 State of the State.

The plan will ensure unemployed New Yorkers who accept part-time work are not penalized by basing their partial unemployment benefits on the hours they actually work, rather than the number of days they work in a given week. This change will inject more money into New York's economy while helping businesses fill part-time positions.

Legislation to be submitted with the Executive Budget will permanently enact a Partial UI program to incentivize unemployed New Yorkers to assume a part-time job as they search for full-time work, with a revised calculation made possible by technological improvements currently underway.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, New York State has distributed more than $62 billion in unemployment benefits to 4 million New Yorkers -- representing over 29 typical years' worth of benefits paid in just 10 months. This includes more than $1 billion paid during the week of Jan. 4, 2021 to New Yorkers through newly extended federal unemployment programs, which New York implemented weeks ahead of most other states.

"The COVID pandemic has created dual crises, putting Americans' physical health and financial wellbeing at risk -- and in New York we are addressing both sides of this public health emergency. I am immediately directing the Department of Labor to change outdated rules so as we build back from the pandemic, unemployed New Yorkers aren't penalized for taking part-time jobs," Governor Cuomo said.

"Encouraging part-time work will help New Yorkers get back to work quickly, give small businesses the flexibility needed to navigate these difficult times, and ensure our neighbors have money to put food on the table."

New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, "I applaud Governor Cuomo for moving this proposal forward. No New Yorker should be discouraged from taking part-time work for fear of losing critical benefits when they are trying to do what is necessary to provide for their families and transition back into the workforce full time. This new plan is an important pathway for our workforce, our businesses, and our communities."

Under current law, unemployed New Yorkers' weekly benefits are reduced by 25 percent for each day an individual works, regardless of the hours worked -- unfairly penalizing those who accept part-time jobs. This meant that anyone who worked four or more days -- even if they only worked one hour per day -- would have to forfeit their entire weekly benefit.

In order to fix this illogical system of partial unemployment, Governor Cuomo will direct the Department of Labor to immediately implement emergency measures that base partial unemployment benefits on the number of hours actually worked over the course of a week.

Under this new system, unemployed New Yorkers can work up to seven days per week and still receive some unemployment benefits as long as they work fewer than 30 hours and earn no more than $504 in gross pay. The new method of calculating partial benefits is outlined below:

  • New Yorkers who work between zero and four hours in a week and earn no more than $504 will receive their full unemployment benefit;
  • New Yorkers who work between four and 10 hours in a week and earn no more than $504 will receive 75 percent of their unemployment benefit;
  • New Yorkers who work between 10 and 20 hours in a week and earn no more than $504 will receive half of their unemployment benefit;
  • New Yorkers who work between 20 and 30 hours in a week and earn no more than $504 will receive 25 percent of their unemployment benefit;
  • New Yorkers who work over 30 hours in a week, regardless of earnings, will not receive any of their unemployment benefit.

New Yorkers will still be required to submit weekly certifications online or over the phone to receive their benefits each week. However, to allow the DOL to immediately implement this change, claimants will use a formula to convert the number of hours they work into a number of "days" to report when certifying.

When DOL's certification system asks for the number of days worked, New Yorkers will add together the total number of hours they worked during a given week and use the following chart to determine how their weekly hours worked translates to the number of days they should report when certifying.

The changes will go into effect for work done on or after Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, which unemployed New Yorkers certify for starting on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021.

Hours Worked In A Given Week Number of Days to Report When Certifying Percent Reduction in Benefits 0 4 0 0 4.1 10 1 25% 10.1 20 2 50% 20.1 30 3 75%

When totaling hours for the week, claimants should use a maximum of 10 hours per day, even if they worked more hours during a day.

In order to implement this reform and support unemployed New Yorkers, Governor Cuomo will launch a Workforce Forward Strike Team, which will bring together experts from the DOL, the Governor's Workforce Development Office and the Empire State Development Corporation to connect unemployed New Yorkers seeking part-time employment with small businesses that are looking for part-time workers.

The strike team will also help businesses develop strategies to utilize the flexibility part-time workers provide as they build back from the pandemic.

In addition, Governor Cuomo will direct the DOL to strengthen its Shared Work Program, which enables employers to avoid layoffs by allowing workers to receive partial Unemployment Insurance benefits while working reduced hours. This program, which has been in place since 1986, became a vital lifeline for businesses across the state as they made temporary staff reductions in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, the DOL has already reduced required paperwork and improved the plan approval and certification processes, enabling the Shared Work Program to handle a 10-fold increase in the number of plans in 2020 -- helping more than 60,000 New Yorkers stay at work during the coronavirus pandemic. In the coming year, the DOL will conduct targeted outreach efforts and implement new technology that will make it easier for employers to learn about and participate in this critical program.

County's unemployment rate drops to 4.6 percent

By Howard B. Owens

Genesee County's unemployment rate was 4.6 percent in November, still a percentage point higher than a year ago, but a bit better than it was with October's 5.0 percent rate.

There are 27,000 county residents with jobs. There were 28,400 a year ago in November and 26,800 in October of this year.

There are 1,300 people actively seeking employment compared to 1,100 a year ago and 1,300 last month.

Local unemployment rate drops to the lowest rate of the year so far

By Howard B. Owens

Genesee County's unemployment rate, at 4.8 percent for September, is the lowest percentage it's been in 2020 but still significantly higher than its seasonal rate a year ago.

In August rate 2019, the rate was 3.4 percent.

Since the pandemic hit the economy, the local employment rate has been:

  • April, 14.4 percent
  • May, 10.1 percent
  • June, 9.5 percent
  • July, 10.5 percent
  • August, 8 percent

The lowest rate prior to September was in February and March at 4.9 percent. The pandemic-related job losses started in March but those job losses didn't start to show up in official statistics until April.

There are 28,900 county residents counted in the labor force. A year ago, there were 29,900 people in the local labor force.

Of those currently in the labor force (people who are employed or are actively looking for work), 27,500 have jobs. There are 1,400 looking for work.

For September, there were 21,200 non-farm jobs in Genesee County compared to 23,000 a year ago. Of those, 15,700 are in the private sector (compared to 17,400 a year ago).

NYS Labor Department $1.9 billion paid out in lost wage aid, gets FEMA OK for three more weeks of benefits

By Press Release

Press release:

The New York State Department of Labor today announced that New York has paid nearly $1.9 billion in Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) benefits to 2.26 million New Yorkers this week, representing retroactive payments of $300 for the weeks ending Aug. 2nd, 9th and 16th.

In total, New York State has now paid $44.5 billion in benefits to New Yorkers during the COVID-19 pandemic — representing more than 21 typical years’ worth of benefits paid in just six months. 

In addition, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved New York for the second and final round of LWA funding. This round of funding provides three additional weeks of Lost Wages Assistance benefits, paid retroactively for the weeks ending Aug. 23rd, Aug. 30th, and Sept. 6th. New Yorkers will begin to receive these payments next week.  

“Over the last six months, we have moved heaven and earth to connect millions of New Yorkers with their benefits, including nearly $1.9 billion in Lost Wages Assistance payments distributed just this week,” said State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. “While plagued with administrative roadblocks, the federal lost wages assistance program is now finally providing unemployed families with much needed support — and it is unconscionable for the Federal government to once again cut Americans off from this support.

"Leaders in Washington, D.C., must pass a comprehensive package that supports unemployed families and the state and local governments that are hurting from this pandemic. Anything less is simply unacceptable.” 

An estimated 2.3 million New Yorkers are eligible for the second round of LWA payments for the benefit weeks ending Aug. 23rd, Aug. 30th, and Sept. 6th. They include: 

  • Approximately 2.1 million who are prequalified for the LWA program because they have previously indicated that their unemployment was connected to the COVID-19 pandemic. These New Yorkers will receive an email and text message informing them they are pre-qualified and do not need to take any further action.
  • Approximately 157,000 who are eligible for one or more LWA payments for the weeks ending Aug. 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th, and/or Sept. 6th but have not submitted a certification indicating they are unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as required by the federal government. These New Yorkers have already received a secure DocuSign email from NYS DOL with a link to certify or can call 833-491-0632 to certify via automated phone system.
  • Approximately 23,700 who are eligible for one or more LWA payments for the weeks ending Aug. 23rd, Aug. 30th or Sept. 6th but were not eligible for the earlier weeks’ payments because they were not unemployed during the first three weeks of August. These New Yorkers will receive a secure DocuSign email from NYS DOL on Sept. 18th with a link to certify or can call 833-491-0632 to certify via automated phone system. 

New Yorkers who are prequalified for the second round of LWA benefits or who must certify and submit their certification by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 22nd, will receive their payments next week. Those who submit their certification at a later date will be paid on a rolling basis.

Closure of Darien Lake, Batavia Downs, contributing to continued high unemployment number locally

By Howard B. Owens

Genesee County's unemployment rate is back over 10 percent for July after a small dip to 9.5 percent in June.

The 2020 rate of 10.6 percent is 7 percentage points higher than it was a year ago.

Genesee County's unemployment rate had mostly stay between 6 percent and 3 percent, depending on the time of year, going back to 2015, and then the global SARS-CoV-2 pandemic hit and many people started to shelter in place at the same time the government severely restricted business activity.  

In March, the month the first lockdown orders were issued, the county's unemployment rate was 4.9 percent. In April, it jumped to 14.4 percent, then fell to 10.1 percent in May.

A year ago in July, it was 3.5 percent.

One big factor in the local unemployment numbers is the county's largest seasonal employer, Darien Lake Theme Park, has not been allowed to reopen. The park employs more than 1,000 people every summer.

Another significant local employer that remains closed is Batavia Downs, which this time of year would have at least 450 people on the workforce.

There are currently 3,200 work-eligible people living in Genesee County who do not have jobs. A year ago, there were 1,100 people looking for work who reported they couldn't find a job that suited their qualifications.

At the hight of the previous recession. the high July number for unemployed people was 2,400.

Genesee County's unemployment rate dropped in May after COVID-driven spike in April

By Howard B. Owens

After hitting an unprecedented 14.4 percent in April, Genesee County's unemployment rate fell sharply for May, dropping to 10.1 percent.

That is a level more in line with the area unemployment rate at the depth of the great recession when unemployment topped out at an even 10 percent January and February of 2010.

Of course, the May 2020 unemployment rate is much higher than the 3.4 percent of a year ago.

At the same time, there are also more people participating in the workforce in Genesee County than a year ago, an increase of 200 workers who either have employment or are seeking employment, from 29,300 to 29,500.

The total number of local residents considered unemployed is 3,000, compared to 1,000 a year ago, 4,200 a month ago, and 1,400 two months ago.

The state's unemployment rate is 14.2 percent, up from 3.6 percent a year ago, and the U.S. unemployment rate 13 percent. Nationally, it was 3.4 percent a year ago in May.

At 14.4 percent, county's unemployment rate is higher than at any point during the Great Recession

By Howard B. Owens

Genesee County's unemployment rate jumped to 14.4 percent in April, the highest rate since the Great Recession, when 10 percent of county residents were without jobs in January and February of 2010.

The highest unemployment rate for the county since 1990 (the oldest data publicly available) was 10.8 percent in January 1992.

The unemployment rate a year ago for April was 3.7 percent. In March of this year, it was 4.9 percent, as it was in February, and it was 5.1 percent in January.

The unemployment rate in the state is 15 percent.

It's 19.2 percent in the Buffalo area and 14.9 percent in the Rochester area.

There are 4,300 people in Genesee County counted as unemployed and 25,200 county residents with jobs.

If you tried to file for unemployment, you might want to answer the phone if you see 'private caller'

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

“Earlier today, the Department of Labor started proactively calling every New Yorker who had submitted a partially complete application for Unemployment Insurance.

“Like many across the Empire State, the majority of our staff are working from home, and New Yorkers may see an incoming caller ID that lists ‘PRIVATE CALLER.’ I want to encourage New Yorkers to answer these calls so we can complete your application and connect you with the benefits you deserve.

'To prevent fraud, anyone calling from the Department of Labor will verify their identity by providing the date you filed your Unemployment Insurance application and the type of claim you filed."

“We are dedicating every resource available to increase our capacity, processing claims, and helping New Yorkers weather this storm.”

Department of Labor reports hundreds of thousands requests for unemployment insurance requests

By Howard B. Owens

Yesterday, Mike Pettinella reported on the high volume of requests for assistance the state's unemployment offices are receiving for benefits.

Today, spokeswoman Deanna Cohen provided an update:

Yesterday we received 532,000+ site visits from New Yorkers filing UI claims.

Today we received 475,000+ calls.

Our dedicated staff is doing the best they can and are committed to serving every single person, no matter how long it takes.

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